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Topics: Building Breakthrough Businesses Within Established Organizations

Leading strategic experiments is the triple-flip-with-a-quadruple-twist of general management. No matter how talented and experienced the leader, chances are that this is a new and unfamiliar challenge. VG can help you understand the three fundamental challenges faced by strategic experiments, and can offer several specific recommendations to help you overcome them.

Even world-class companies with successful business models eventually hit the ceiling on growth. That’s what makes emerging industries so attractive. These markets represent huge opportunities for capturing long term growth and competitive advantage. But because they lack a proven formula for making a profit, they are risky and expensive–with dire consequences for failure.

Vijay Govindarajan argues that every organization’s survival depends on strategic experiments that target such untested markets, but few firms understand how to implement them successfully. Too many managers think that a great idea is enough to get them from business plan to profitability, but somewhere in the middle of the innovation process, most organizations stumble. Govindarajan reveals where firms go wrong on their journey from idea to execution—and outline exactly what it takes to build a breakthrough business while sustaining excellence in an existing one.

Based on an in-depth, multiyear research study of innovative initiatives at ten large corporations, Vijay Govindarajan identifies three central challenges to strategic innovation:

Govindarajan illustrates ten rules to help organizations overcome these challenges, and show how firms must rewire their “organizational DNA” across four main areas: staffing, structure, systems, and culture, in order for a promising new venture to succeed. He also spells out the critical role senior executives must play in managing the inevitable tensions that arise between today’s business and tomorrow’s.

Breakthrough growth opportunities can make or break companies and careers. Govindarajan can present a guide to execution in unexplored territory.


–Strategic Experiments are high-risk, high-growth-potential new businesses within established organizations.
–Leaders of strategic experiments must forget, borrow, and learn.

Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators — from Idea to Execution
A book by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, Harvard Business School Press, Fall 2005.